Turn and Talks!

One the most important things when teaching a new skill is informal assessments.  Our 2nd graders need to stop about every 5-10 minutes (10 minutes being the max) to talk with a partner about the new information they have "soaked" up.  We have found that the students need to have a specific question or questions to answer.  We have in the past said to students "turn and talk to your partner about something you just learned".  That was a BIG mistake learning experience.  We have all sorts of conversations floating around the room.  The best thing we found to use is:

"Turn and Talk ideas"!

These topic ideas that keeps the kids on track when given two-three minutes to discuss what they have been learning.  For example,  when discussing Character, Setting, and Events, we might start the discussion with a sentence like "We could change the character in the sentence on the board to.....".  Then the partners will orally list different characters to have in the sentence.  We can tell if partner groups do or do not understand by the type of choices they are making to change the characters.  
We continue this with settings and events.  Our kids love to try to make the silliest sentences they can.  They don't realize that they are learning while trying to make their partner laugh.

The Turn and Talk questions are so important because we always follow them up with the wonderful WHY. The kids know that word is coming and by the 3rd or 4th week of school we are hearing the buzz word "because" in their partner conversations.  

While planning lessons (even during the summer- wahoo!), I try to think about how to incorporate more of the Turn and Talk times in our classroom. The sky is the limit!
Happy Teaching!

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